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Tim Story
Ice Cube, Anthony Anderson, Cedric the Entertainer, Sean Patrick Thomas, Eve
Writing Credits:
Mark Brown, Don D. Scott, Marshall Todd

Everyone's gettin' lined up!
Box Office:
Budget $12 million
Opening weekend $20.627 million on 1605 screens.
Domestic gross $75.074 million.
Rated PG-13 for language, sexual content and brief drug references.

Widescreen 1.85:1/16x9
English Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Surround
English, Spanish, French, Portuguese

Runtime: 102 min.
Price: $26.98
Release Date: 12/31/2002

• 4 Behind-the-Scenes Featurettes
• Audio Commentary with the Director, Producers and a Writer
• Deleted Scenes with Director's Commentary
• Bloopers and Outtakes
• Barber School Interactive Game
• "Trade It All" Music Video with Fabulous featuring P.Diddy and Jagged Edge
• Behind-the-Scenes Photo Gallery
• Easter Egg
• Theatrical Trailer

Music soundtrack

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TV - Mitsubishi CS-32310 32"; Subwoofer - JBL PB12; DVD Player - Toshiba SD-4700; Receiver - Sony STR-DE845; Center - Polk Audio CS175i; Front Channels - Polk Audio; Rear Channels - Polk Audio.


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Barbershop (2002)

Reviewed by David Williams (December 23, 2002)

The world of rap music has produced a lot of wanna-be movie stars with very few finding huge commercial success outside of Will Smith. However, quite of few of the B-list guys have a lot in common – they all share the moniker of “Ice”. Take for example, “Vanilla Ice”, a rapper whose performance in Cool As Ice is probably best remembered for its unintentional comedic moments rather than anything resembling drama or angst. Then we have “Ice-T”, a former pimp who managed to turn his “pimp-itude” into a successful rap career and then managed to parlay that in to something that resembled a part-time job in the feature film world. Ice-T started out with some rather pathetic performances in Breakin’ and Breakin’ 2, but seemed to be on the path to legitimacy with a great performance in New Jack City. However, of late, Ice-T seems to have avoided most of the good scripts and spends more time on the B-movie path, starring in such memorable films as Ticker and Air Rage. That leaves us with the last “Ice” I’m gonna cover in this review – “Ice Cube”. Cube burst on to the scene in 1991 in the John Singleton vehicle, Boyz N The Hood and has managed to keep himself in the limelight with a string of moderately successful outings like the trilogy of films in the Friday series, as well as David O. Russell’s Three Kings. He also manages to keep his name on the marquee with highly visible, but not very entertaining projects, like Anaconda and Ghosts of Mars. Based on the aforementioned track records, it’s easy to see that Ice Cube is the coldest of the bunch and once again, has found himself in a surprise big screen hit, Barbershop.

The story introduces us to Calvin (Ice Cube), proprietor of a barbershop in Chicago’s inner-city. Calvin’s shop was formerly run by his father and his grandfather before him and now it’s his; the only problem is that Calvin hates to cut hair and would rather work on another one of his many failed get-rich-quick schemes. Calvin’s latest scheme is to set up a first class recording studio in his home and in order to pay for it, he agrees to sell the barbershop to local loan shark, Lester Wallace (Keith David). However, the more Calvin thinks about the fateful decision, the more he regrets it and when he finds out that Wallace wants to turn the place in to a strip club, he resolves to do whatever it takes to buy the shop back. However, loan sharks don’t make money by making bad deals and now, Wallace wants twice the amount he paid for the barbershop to have the deed change hands again. Even though Calvin is in quite a bind, he keeps the sale of the barbershop from his staff and attempts to buy it back without them ever knowing what happened.

Calvin’s attempt to re-purchase the shop is the plot point that the film revolves around and there’s also a slapstick subplot (albeit not very funny) involving two locals – JD (Anthony Anderson) and Billy (Lahmard Tate) – and a stolen ATM. Every now and again, we break to follow these two morons around as they are continually trying to open the ATM and find a place to stash it.

Being a dialogue-driven comedy and an ensemble one at that, we spend a good amount of time in the film’s namesake and follow many of the characters that make up the assembly. We meet Terri (Eve), the take-no-guff female barber of the group who’s going through some relationship problems; oafishly sweet Dinka (Leonard Howze), a dorky Nigerian immigrant with a crush on Terri; Isaac (Troy Garity), a young, white Jewish barber who walks/talks/acts/wants-to-be black; Jimmy (Sean Patrick Thomas), the educated snob who feels an intellectual superiority over the group and has major issues with Isaac; and Ricky (Michael Ealy), a reformed street thug.

Perhaps, best of all is Eddie (Cedric the Entertainer), a holdover from the days when Calvin’s dad owned the shop. He seemingly has no customers and spends all day barking out his unpopular and bristly opinions to anyone in the shop. Reminiscent of the Eddie Murphy/Arsenio Hall barber characters in Coming To America, Eddie has an opinion about every hot-button topic dealing with African American history and pop culture and he’s not afraid to tell you what it is. He rips on everything from Rosa Parks to OJ Simpson to the state of black culture today and while it creates some pretty volatile conversations, it’s also good for a lot of laughs. As many of you probably recall, many of these conversations caused a furor in the upper ranks of the African American community when the “Reverend” Jesse Jackson and the “Reverend” Al Sharpton rallied against the film based on the comments made in the confines of the barbershop. Supposedly, if you’re an African American and don’t subscribe to the train of thought that Jackson and Sharpton do, you’re not doing your community justice. However, after watching the film, I don’t see what all the furor was about and unfortunately (but understandably), the issue wasn’t addressed in any of the DVDs extras.

The film is directed rather awkwardly and clumsily at times by Tim Story and while there were some definite missteps in the film, he did a fine enough job that Barbershop 2 has already been given a tentative release date in 2004. While the aforementioned comment may seem a bit harsh and an indictment on the film itself or its principals, that’s not my intention at all. Barbershop was very amusing as a whole and contained many bits that worked to perfection - I just felt a couple of side stories were poorly executed and there were some easily spotted drags in certain portions of the film. In the end however, Barbershop managed to entertain and was a pleasurable 102-minute ride.

Barbershop can hang its hat on its performances – especially those turned in by Ice Cube and Cedric the Entertainer. Both do wonders in making the film an enjoyable romp inside of this inner-city sanctuary and give performances that contain an affable depth and emotion not often found in the genre. Ultimately, the film was a diamond in the rough and quite a nice find for those of us that missed it during its theatrical run. This Barbershop is a cool place to hang out … sit back, kick up your feet, and enjoy yourself.

The DVD Grades: Picture B+ / Audio B- / Bonus C

MGM brings Barbershop to the home viewing market in an anamorphically enhanced transfer in the film’s original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1. The image looks quite sharp and detailed for such a low-budget affair (it was made for a rather paltry $12 million) and from viewing the final product, it’s pretty hard to tell if money was saved via skimps in the cinematography realm, as the print and its corresponding transfer, look quite nice.

The film contains a pretty earthy/generic color palette in the fact that it features nothing more than a bunch of characters standing around in street clothes and in some rather nonspecific, but historically rich, interiors. The colors were reproduced well for the DVD and everything seemed to be properly balanced and contrasted, with no bleeding or smearing noted. The scenes, whether they were inside of the barbershop or another interior location, were always properly lit and contrasted, with nighttime scenes and other dimly lit portions of the film containing solid black levels that allowed for excellent shadow detail and delineation without any muddiness or murkiness detected. The outdoor scenes, shot in the cold and dreary Chicago winter, looked fine as well and the hues complimented the environment well.

Issues with the print were minor and were relegated to some grain that permeated certain scenes and caused the image to soften somewhat, as well as some shimmer on some highly contrasted walls and such. I did notice a small flake and fleck on occasion, but it was of the “blink and you’ll miss it” variety. Other than that however, the image remained strong and Barbershop was a very solid picture. The film looks great on DVD and MGM is to be commended for the fine treatment the film received.

The film’s Dolby Digital 5.1 audio transfer is definitely capable, but not really anything to write home about. Being that the film is a comedy and a dialogue-driven one at that, there’s just no a whole lot that the track has to offer in the way of ambience or engrossing envelopment.

Being that the film is dialogue-driven, we get a very forward-centric mix that reproduces the character’s speech quite well, without any edginess or harshness detected. There weren’t really any key effects to speak of in the film and therefore, we didn’t get a lot from the mix in the way of impressive splits and/or pans. What we do get is a well-done, straightforward mix that contains nice separation of certain elements and a jazzy musical score that gets the job done. Rear surrounds were noticeable on occasion, but contained nothing you haven’t heard on other tracks in this genre. LFE usage was minimal and was pretty much localized to certain portions of the score, as well as propping up a few generalized effects in the film. The track did an excellent job of getting the main portions of the film across and did little to impress and as such, was a perfectly enjoyable listen.

MGM has also included a Dolby Digital 2.0 mix in Spanish, as well as English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese subtitles.

MGM has provided fans of Barbershop with some really nice extras that supplement the film quite nicely. While Barbershop is no Lord of the Rings: Extended Edition, it’s still quite an impressive set and a very welcome one for a film that came out of nowhere to become a huge hit at the box office.

The first extra on the disc is an Audio Commentary with director Tim Story, writer Don D. Scott, producer Robert Teitel, and producer George Tillman, Jr.. Given such an opinionated and high-energy comedy, we should rightfully expect the same from the commentary … and that’s definitely what we get here. The four participants offer up a completely engaging and at times, very entertaining commentary that covers a wild range of subjects. The group is very energetic and appealing and you can tell that they’re having a great time discussing their hit. They discuss the script and the research that went in to it; the involvement of the actors and what each brought to their role; cameos from non-acting friends in the film and locals from the Chicago area; making an effort to remove a lot of vulgarity from the film in order to secure a PG-13 rating and keep the film a bit “classier” – and in turn, open up Barbershop to a wider age range; production and filming issues; and a slight bit of scene commentary from time to time. There were hardly any dead spots in the track and it was a marvelous way to add to the enjoyment of the story, as ultimately, the commentary was a lot of fun and was a great listen. The group obviously enjoyed doing it and it only made it that much more engaging for the viewer.

Following is The Hair Club and within, we find four mini-featurettes that make up the entire feature. “The Final Cut” (19:25) starts things off and serves as our behind-the-scenes look at the film. Via clips from the film and on the set, as well as interview snippets, this supplement covers the origin of the script and early changes made to it, Anthony Anderson’s involvement in getting the script made in to a film, how the actors prepared for their roles by actually going to barber college, shooting on location in Chicago and other places, the provocative subjects covered in portions of the script, and so on. There’s a lot of information covered in a short amount of time here and while nothing is covered in-depth, it was fun nonetheless. Interviews are included with Mark Brown (Writer/Producer), Mark Teitel (Producer), George Tillman (Producer), Marshall Todd (Writer), Tim Story (Director), Don D. Scott (Writer), and actors Anthony Anderson, Ice Cube, Cedric the Entertainer, Sean Patrick Thomas, Leonard Earl Howze, Michael Ealy, Eve, Troy Garity, and Lahmard Tate. Ultimately, this was a well-produced supplement that offered up a lot of fine material on the making of Barbershop.

Next is ”Set, Press, and Style” (6:03) and here, Roger Fortune (Production Designer), takes us on a guided tour of the many sets, props, and locations used in the film. The extra starts out as Fortune discusses the idea swapping that went back-and-forth between he and Tim Story and the look-and-feel that they were shooting for on the film. This supplement was surprisingly deep and in-depth and in my opinion, could have gone on much longer and remained totally engaging. “Set, Press, and Style” was a very nice find.

”Finishing Touches” (5:58) introduces us to Devon Patterson (Costume Designer) and we learn about how Patterson came about the different styles and fashion statements made by the characters. Lastly, we run across “Hairdo’s and Don’ts” (7:01) and this was a great introduction to the culture and history of black haircuts and styles via interviews with barbers and stars from the film. This was a really funny and entertaining extra that was very informative at the same time.

MGM has also included some Deleted Scenes for us to chew on and the seven we find here are ‘You Want Boom-Boom?’ (1:27), ‘Ricky’s Routine’ (0:41), ‘You Know We In The Ghetto’ (0:32), ‘You Ain’t Right With Jesus’ (0:58), ‘All I Need Is $18,900’ (1:14), ‘Just Give Me A Sign’ (0:57), and ‘You Smell Chicken?’ (0:52). The scenes are a mixture of extensions of scenes already in the film, as well as ones that never made it past the cutting room floor. Additionally, they can be viewed with or without commentary from director Tim Story and MGM has also provided a –PLAY ALL- selection for those of us not really interested in clicking on each of the individual scenes. The scenes in and of themselves are pretty fun to check out and while they wouldn’t have necessarily advanced the film any more than what we already have, they’re a welcome addition to the DVD and worthy of the time spent in checking them out. Following are a few minutes of pretty funny Outtakes (4:53) from the film.

Next up is the Barber School Interactive Game and after a quick introduction from director Tim Story, the actors from Barbershop ask us a few questions about events in the film, as well as “barbering” in general and depending on whether we are right or wrong in selecting our answer, there are prepared answers depending on what we choose. The game doesn’t mix up the questions and after you’ve been through this extra once, there’s no need to check it out again.

An Easter Egg (2:39) was included on the disc and featured a fun little supplement called “Barber Banter”. The extra contained interview snippets from a multitude of black barbers and some of the principals from the film and they related some funny stories they from time spent in barbershops or outlandish stories that customers relayed to them. The extra can be found by positioning your cursor on the “More” selection at the bottom of the first or second page of supplements and then pressing –DOWN- on your DVD remote. A “barber’s poll” will become highlighted and you can start the extra by simply pressing –ENTER-.

Finishing off the disc are a ”Trade It All” Music Video with Fabolous Featuring P. Diddy and Jagged Edge - all of which I’m assuming aren’t their birth names. It features the standard fare mix of generic music video happenings and movie clips. The video is in Dolby 2.0 and fullscreen and ends with a trailer for the Barbershop soundtrack.

Next is a Behind-The-Scenes Photo Gallery that contains still photos of “The Cast” (13 images), “From The Film” (15 images), and “Behind The Scenes” (11 images). Unfortunately, there’s not a lot here to write home about and fans of the film, or the principals involved, will have a hard time finding anything exciting about this section.

The film’s Theatrical Trailer is next and is followed by Other Great MGM Titles, which includes trailers/advertisements that include “MGM Means Great Movies”, “Rollerball DVD Trailer”, “What’s the Worst That Could Happen? DVD Trailer”, and “More Great MGM Releases”.

MGM has provided fans with a very nice set of extras for Barbershop and the only unfortunate thing is that they don’t last long enough. Great job from the folks at MGM and a nice way to supplement the film.

Barbershop was a great find and for those of us that missed it during its theatrical run – and for those that saw it and loved it – MGM has provided a marvelous DVD for us to enjoy over and over again from the comfort of our home viewing area.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.387 Stars Number of Votes: 31
5 3:
View Averages for all rated titles.